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Thursday, 1 November 2012

Luxurious Leather


Leather is a material that harkens back to early man, who we know depended on animal skins for many aspects of his life such as to provide clothing and shelter. In fact there is something satisfying when you start working with leather, knowing the long history of dependence that humans have had with this most fascinating of materials.

Laura choosing hides with Will from A W Midgly & Son
                                   
Before I decided to use leather in my new range of large contemporary craft animals for Mirjami Design, I wanted to find out more about the production of leather to see if it would fit in with my ethical stance on materials. Fortunately I found a decent local family run supplier by the name of
A W Midgley & Son who advised me that all their leather, as well as being a natural product, is also a by-product of the food industry. Safe in the knowledge that animals weren't being killed just for their skins, I began to use these beautiful Antiqued tan hides for my new creations!

Ozzy the Giant Leather Owl of Mirjami Design   




There are many stages to the production of leather hides including flaying, preserving, grading and tanning. And while the chemicals used in these processes have some environmental impact, they are necessary to ensure the final product is fully cured and safe to use in the many industries that use leather. While I am using leather for my artwork, it is more traditionally used in the fashion industry, in the upholstery of furniture as well as in a myriad of other niche areas such as in the creation of saddles, and cases for shotguns.

Floor to ceiling hides of all grades and colours in the warehouse

There are many benefits of working with leather for me. It is tough and durable and has a pleasant scent. Also each hide is slightly different and the subtle marks and blemishes add to the characteristic uniqueness of each one. In a way they tell the story of the animal of which they were a part of. In this way, since I am once again creating animals with the leather, I hope the characters of my own creations can embody some of the resonance of the original owner of the skin!

Laura Mirjami working her Magic